“10 lessons for new clinicians”


  • Angela Macfarlane Northumbria University
  • Paul McKeown Northumbria University




As a new clinician, if you have trained as a lawyer via a traditional legal education route you inevitably have very little experience of clinical education to bring to the role, although you of course have your professional and practical experience to draw on. Although many readers are experienced clinicians, this is a timely opportunity to go back to the beginning and re-assess the potential problems or risk areas that clinicians face at the beginning of a new academic year, with a new intake of students. Society changes continually so each year will bring new issues as well as those well known to all clinicians.

In clinic at Northumbria University final year students are placed in to groups of up to six students known as firms and each firm is allocated an area of law such as employment or housing. Each firm is supervised by a qualified solicitor who allocates cases to the students. Students can work individually or in pairs, depending on the complexity of the case. At the end of the academic year, students are assessed on their practical performance using grade descriptors. They also submit reflective pieces about their experiences in clinic.

These “lessons” have emerged from our own first year of transition from practising lawyer to clinical educator. We hope some of them ring true with other new clinicians.